Show: 11TH HOUR WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS Date: October 8, 2018 Guest: Sam Stein, Lisa Lerer, Berit Berger, David Jolly, Sabrina Siddiqui
BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: Tonight in a victory laps for the White House, the President apologizes to Brett Kavanaugh on behalf of the nation and falsely claims his new Supreme Court justice was proven innocent. The President rallies his side by calling the Kavanaugh opposition a hoax. He says the Democrats are an angry mob.
Tonight after what the country has been through, how might it affect the midterm election just 29 days from now? Also, Trump invites Rod Rosenstein on Air Force I and says they had a good talk. Well tonight the New York Times article has dropped a story that could have implications for the Mueller investigation. THE 11TH HOUR on the Monday night begins now.
Well, good evening once again from our NBC News headquarters here in New York. Day 627 of the Trump administration, 29 days to go now until Americans go to the polls. Tonight, the President is using the successful confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh not just as a win for the White House but as a way to further energize conservative voters.
Just a few hours ago, Trump presided over a ceremonial swearing in of Kavanaugh who was already sworn in this weekend after the final Senate vote. The President put himself squarely in the middle of the picture and tossed out some quotes, "Designed to inflame the left, all of it designed to celebrate victory."
Ashley Parker of "The Washington Post" who is standing by to join us along with her colleague, John Wagner, tonight wrote that the event, "Included a cocktail reception and a band which in some ways felt like a cross between a campaign rally and a wedding reception." As millions of people watched on live, television this evening with the Kavanaugh family and the entire Supreme Court present in the room, the President chose to apologized to Justice Kavanaugh.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: On behalf of our nation, I want to apologize to Brett and the entire Kavanaugh family for the terrible pain and suffering you have been forced to endure. What happened to the Kavanaugh family violates every notion of fairness, decency and due process. Our country, a man or a woman, must always be presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. And with that I must state that you, sir, under historic scrutiny were proven innocent. Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Justice Kavanaugh then offered his own take on the bruising confirmation process and he also addressed concerns about his ability to be impartial while on the bench.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRETT KAVANAUGH, SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: The Senate confirmation process was contentious and emotional. That process is over. My focus now is to be the best justice I can be. I take this office with gratitude and no bitterness. On the Supreme Court, I will seek to be a force for stability and unity. Every American can be assured that I will be an independent and impartial justice, devoted to equal justice under law.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Kavanaugh is easily the least popular nominee since Robert Bourque. New polling shows that just 41 percent of Americans wanted him confirmed while 51 percent believes that he should not be on the high court. And the 50 senators who voted yes on Kavanaugh represent states covering just 44 percent of the US population.
The President has been making a point of bringing up the fight to confirm Kavanaugh at all of his recent appearances and he`ll no doubt continue this week as he campaigns for midterm candidates as you see there in Iowa, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kentucky.
Ashley Parker, John Wagner of "The Washington Post" point out the quotes, "Since Kavanaugh was confirmed Saturday, Trump has seemed more interested in inflaming rather than reducing the tensions over his Supreme Court pick." Trump remarks earlier today give some clues as to what he`s likely to tell voters.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I`ve been hearing that that now they`re thinking about impeaching a brilliant jurors, a man that did nothing wrong, a man that was caught up in a hoax that was set up by the Democrats, using the Democrat`s lawyers. It was all made up. It was fabricated and it`s a disgrace. And I think it`s going to really show you something come November 6th.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: While the White House and the Republican Party have been openly optimistic about the midterm elections, a report from AXIOS indicates top administration officials are taking their first steps to prepare for an onslaught of investigations if the Democrats win the House. "According to a source with direct knowledge, Chief of Staff John Kelly recently formed a small working group to start preparing for the possibility that Democrats will soon sic Congress` top investigators on Trump world."
The report goes on. "Senior White House staff have an offsite weekend retreat schedule for late October. The agenda is expected to include a discussion of investigations under a Democratic-controlled House, according to the source."
Lots to talk about tonight as we start a new week, let`s bring in our lead off panel on a Monday night, the aforementioned Ashley Parker, Pulitzer Prize Winning White House Reporter for the Washington Post. Sam Stein, Politics Editor for the Daily Beast. Lisa Lerer, National Political reporter for the "New York Times".
Ashley, I`d like to begin with you and just the optics of all the sitting justices of the Supreme Court, some big time lawyers in that room, the Congressional leadership, the people who know enough to know it`s not correct that this man has been -- whatever you want to say about him, proven innocent.
ASHLEY PARKER, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: That`s right. These swearing-in ceremonies are generally fairly pro forma. And it`s a nice thing to do sometimes for the justice or the president may want to take a victory lap, the way President Trump did. But it is very striking for the president to go out as he did this evening and begin by apologizing to Justice Kavanaugh on behalf of the nation, which is not, frankly, a sentiment the nation writ large shares. That was the whole point of these past three weeks we went through that the nation is deeply divided over this.
And then most striking of all was the president saying that you have been under deep scrutiny and you were proven innocent. That is simply not true. To be clear, nor was Justice Kavanaugh proven guilty, but the whole thing we were debating was this he said, she said, who is credible, whose version of the truth can be believed. And even though there was in that last week an FBI investigation, no one knows what the actual truth is.
But what the President understands is that by saying that Judge Kavanaugh, Justice Kavanaugh is innocent, this sort of next step which we`re seeing on the campaign trail and we`re seeing as a Republican talking point is that there`s this angry mob of sort of liberals who are out to get this allegedly innocent man. And while it`s in no way based in fact that he`s innocent or guilty, we don`t know. It is a very good message for the President`s base right now, and that`s what we`re going to see him pushing.
WILLIAMS: Sam, it is indeed a great hobby of the cable age and that is watching the birth of a talking point. It`s like astronomers watching the birth of a star knowing it happened light years ago, and we`re just seeing it now.
To my mind, the angry mob, the use of the mob started in Mitch McConnell`s floor speech. Either it was come up with in concert or somebody on the other end of town thought, "Hey, that`s a great word. Let`s take it out for a spin."
SAM STEIN, POLITICS EDITOR, THE DAILY BEAST: Yes. I mean, at some point there was a calculation made that in order to get now Justice Kavanaugh through this confirmation process, you actually had to, you know, turn up the volume on it. Make it a little bit more partisan. Frame it as an us- versus them type of battle. And part of that entailed framing and depicting these people who would come to protest the senators are the mob.
In reality, it was far different than actually embedded with a lot of the woman who were going around the senate trying to compel senators to vote against Kavanaugh. These people were more often to not sexual assaults protesters themselves who would come in from out of town, or staying in some cases in churches, in some cases with friends. They had their friends pick up their kids from school because they took off time. And yes, these were paid groups organizing this, but these people were not paid protesters in any sense.
They were there deeply emotionally invested in this debate. And truly hurt by the idea that someone would get confirmed under those circumstances. But a political calculation was made to make sure that they were framed as a mob in order for us versus them type of debate to happen. And what we`re seeing is that, it worked fundamentally because he got confirmed, but also it turned conservative awe and it made them more conscientious of the fight. And now we`re seeing polls in some of this red state Senate races that Republican numbers are improving precisely because the base is consolidating.
WILLIAMS: Lisa, I know you were just back from America. You were out in Michigan talking to actual living breathing Americans who intend to vote in the midterms.
Tell us, give us your report from the field starting with who you dealt with, who you spoke to.
LISA LERER, NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, so I was out in Michigan today talking to Democratic activists and voters there and getting a sense of how they feel. You know, I have a theory about politics that a lot of people share which is that losers vote more than winners. You know, grievance outweighs gratitude.
So I wanted to test that theory a little bit, and I can tell you, you know, it seemed impossible that Democrats could be more energized for this midterm, but it`s possible. It turns out its possible. One woman, who runs a group out in Michigan, "Fem for Dems", told me this was a supersonic burst for her group.
And they`ve seen hundreds of people, you know, calling up -- calling them, signing up, getting out there knocking, wanting to knock on doors. So this is definitely a shot of enthusiasm for Democrats, and that`s part of why you see Republicans trying to continue this narrative of, you know, getting their voters to protest the protesters.
They saw this and they had a massive enthusiasm gap. You talked to Republican pollsters and they would tell you they saw a 12 to 15-point enthusiasm gap, which is, you know, concerning for them a couple weeks before the midterm elections, Kavanaugh close that up.
But now that fight is over. He`s on the court. Republicans control the White House, Congress and now the court. So they have to keep that energy going, that there`s still something for their voters to fight for, and I think this tactic of talking about the angry mob is one way to do that.
But it`s going to be tough to outrun that sense of grievance that this -- that you see when you talk to Democratic voters.
WILLIAMS: Ashley, that`s where I wanted to go next with you. Twenty-nine days is a long time to maintain a campaign of grievance, a talking point on an angry mob. As you know better than most, at any moment the Russia investigation can land with a thud in front of the President`s residence.
PARKER: You`re right. It`s incredibly long time to maintain a campaign of grievance, but as Lisa said, it`s an even longer time to maintain a campaign of gratitude. And now that justice Kavanaugh is on the Supreme Court, the calculation for this President is this idea, which he sort of intuitively understands, that cultural issues and grievance is a much more natural place for him to go.
If you look at this campaign, he`s not saying, you know, reward me for getting two justices on the Supreme Court. He`s not even touting some of his actual achievements, like reward me for the good economy or reward me for the tax breaks. And this is a president who very naturally goes back to the politics of grievance, the politics of wedge issues, so sort of talking about this angry mob, which McConnell talking point that the President has now latched onto.
It gets out with the President often does, the sort of us versus them talking about immigrants, talking about MS-13, talking about African- American athletes who are protesting the national anthem. The President, when that sort of Mueller latest disclosure lands like a thud, as you said, his most comfortable place to go is to these cultural wedge issues that do galvanize and energize his base, especially white voters and male voters.
WILLIAMS: So, Sam, there`s no outreach to independence, we`ve established that for two years.
WILLIAMS: Pollsters say they`re bleeding independence, and folks on the left have become fond over this weekend, pointing out that the senators who voted yes represent 143 million people, senators who voted no represent 181 million people, memo to the framers. That can`t be fixed right now. But is this just a strategy, Sam, kind of doubling down and taking that 40% out for another spin?
STEIN: Yes, I think so. I mean, it`s not just the Senate and the disproportionate representation there. I mean, when you talk to people who are deeply hurt by this whole process, they would point out, correctly so, that Presidents who have lost the popular vote have appointed for the last four to six Supreme Court justices. So there is this concept with minority rule that is overshadowing all of this.
Now, that`s just the, you know, just how our system is setup. You can have far more grievances with how the house, which is supposed to be representative, is not representative at all. But that`s putting either question aside. You`re asking, are they just trying to bring up the 40% answers? Obviously, yes.
I talked to Steve Bannon about this a month ago, and his point was very valid in that point -- in the moment. He said, "If we`re going to win this election, it`s not going to be about winning over suburban women who by and large have written off Donald Trump. It`s not going to be about winning over independence. It`s going to be about bringing out the base of true Trump supporter."
Couldn`t people who never voted before until the 2016 election. Bring in them out and get them from the polls again. And the way to do it is two fold. One is to tag your accomplishments, which actually noted Trump is not doing. The other one is to warn about things to come.
And so, what you see it`s not just the mob talking point that Mitch McConnell put up. You see increasingly warns -- people warning about impeachment. You see people`s talking to about Democrats launching never- ending investigations, including into Kavanaugh. These are all forward looking, ominous signs that Republicans are putting out there for voters for voters (inaudible).
But they`re primarily targeting that what Steve Bannon calls the deplorable, the people who voted for Trump and may have gone complacent because they`re not politically active until 2016. He feels like Trump needs to bring that in 2018 and seems like Trump is buying into that logic.
WILLIAMS: So, Lisa, right there the talk of impeachment, let`s take that as an example. We know from the Democrats` resume that no party in recent history can lose quite as spectacularly as they can. What has all of this done to confidence? Are people just not wanting to jinx anything? Are the field workers really trying to keep their heads down and work?
LERER: Well, Democrats feel really good. They particularly feel good about the house. The Senate, you know, seems quite a bit more influx, although a bit tighter than I think Democrats anticipated at the beginning of these midterms a year ago.
So, I think there is a real sense of enthusiasm among the Democratic base, among the field workers. You know, and Trump, as Sam correctly pointed out, is working his 40% strategy. I think it`s important, though, to point out that there is damage being wrought here on our institutions, right?
Trump is -- or the Supreme Court, Congress, those are not representing 40% of the people. Those are institutions that are supposed to be representing the entire country. And, you know, his remarks at the White House really make it difficult for people like Justice John Roberts, who has to find ways to restore some trust in the court.
I don`t think or, you know, for the senators who have to find ways to theoretically, at least, have to find ways to get things done. So I think it is important among all this talk of, you know, the midterms and the elections remember what is happening here to this institutions. And you see that even among the Democratic base that people say, well, even if Democrats win, I`m not sure I really trust the core anymore or Congress can`t get anything done. It`s just too partisan and too gridlock no matter whose in-charge.
So, you know, those are concerning trends when you think about how things actually get done and how governance actually should be happening in the country.
WILLIAMS: And thank you Lisa by the way for being our Alastair Cook and reporting back to America from us. To Ashley Parker, to Sam Stein, to Lisa Lerer, thank you for joining us, all three of you to start us off on a Monday night.
Coming up for us, Rod Rosenstein picks up some validations, some air miles and some job security while accepting a trip with the President on Air Force one. But a few hours later the New York Times drops that story involving the Mueller investigation.
Then later tonight, Trump`s versus the Swift vote will call it in the battle over the Tennessee Senate seat. That is up THE 11TH HOUR, just getting started on a Monday night.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What did you say to Rod Rosenstein today, Mr. President?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: We just had a very nice talk. We actually get along. And it was a really good talk.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you say your job is safe? Is his job safe?
TRUMP: Yes. I`m not doing anything -- I don`t want to do anything about that. I`m not making any changes. You`d be the first to know. I`m not making any changes.
WILLIAMS: Rod Rosenstein traveled with the President to Florida today on Air Force One. According to the White House, as you just heard the President say the two met for about 45 minutes and discussed various topics. Back in Washington, Trump said this about Rosenstein and the investigation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I think we`ll be treated very fairly. Everybody understands there was no collusion, there`s no Russia. It was all made up by the Democrats. They are the ones that colluded with Russia.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: There are new reports tonight, however, that Robert Mueller is looking into more Trump campaign efforts to sway the election with the help of a foreign entity. The New York Times is reporting that a top Trump campaign official identified as Rick Gates requested proposals in 2016 from an Israeli company to create fake online identities to use social media manipulation. Can you imagine such a thing? And to gather intelligence to help defeat Republican primary race opponents and Hillary Clinton.
The company is identified as Psy-Group, P-S-Y-Group and staffed by former Israeli intelligence operatives. According to The Times here, there is no evidence that the Trump campaign acted on the proposals, but the Psy- Group`s owner, Joel Zamel, did meet in August 2016 with Donald Trump Jr., and remember this, Rick Gates the top campaign, and we just mentioned pleaded guilty to fraud and lying to the FBI. He is cooperating with team Mueller.
Well, with us tonight to talk about all of it in order, Jeremy Bash former Chief of Staff at CIA and Berit Berger former Chief Counsel to House Intel and 3:31 former Assistant U.S. with the Eastern District of New York and the Southern District of New York. Good evening and welcome to you both.
Versions of the same question for both of you starting in order, Jeremy, is it proper what we saw today for Rod Rosenstein to be hanging out and flying on the plane?
JEREMY BASH, FORMER CIA CHIEF OF STAFF: Well, the President is a subject of a federal criminal investigation that Rod Rosenstein is overseeing. And Rod Rosenstein may have to make the ultimate judgment about what to do with Bob Mueller`s report, whether to make it public or how much of it to withhold from public review.
So I continue to believe, Brian, as I told you on this broadcast shortly after this reporting from New York Times in late September, that it is inappropriate for the President to meet with Rod Rosenstein and discuss with him anything about the investigation, in effect, to hold Rod Rosenstein`s job over his head in the same way if Jim Comey felt the President was doing to him before he ultimately fired Jim Comey.
WILLIAMS: Yeah, Berit, that`s a good point. Comey didn`t like the appearance of having a meal with the President of the United States. Just take the optics we saw today of him traveling with, ultimately, the boss. Do you have any problems with it?
BERIT BERGER, FORMER ASSISTANT US ATTORNEY SOUTHERN DICTRICT OF NEW YORK: Look, Trump is absolutely entitled to meet with his Deputy Attorney General. I think they do that regularly to talk about issues of policy or the priorities of the Justice Department. It`s very different, and I agree it would be improper, if they actually talked about specifics of an investigation, most specifically, the Russia investigation.
Now, Rod Rosenstein is a career prosecutor. He`s a man of integrity. I don`t think that it is likely that he got on that airplane and said, "OK, let me catch up on the Russia investigation, let`s talk about all the specifics on that." that being said, the optics are terrible. Even though they`re entitled to meet, it`s one thing than you know to meet in the White House with other aides there, to meet on Air Force one and have a private 30-minute discussion certainly raises eyebrows.
And this is something that I think prosecutors are especially nervous about, this appearance of impropriety. It`s something they try to avoid or juror instructions that judges will give a break and federal criminal trials, telling prosecutors, "Look, don`t even ride in an elevator with jurors." just because you know appearance is matter if it cause the appearance of impropriety, why give people anything to think that you`re doing something wrong?
WILLIAMS: A great point.
BERGER: You can be involved by that.
WILLIAMS: Drilled into from a young age as a prosecutor clearly. Jeremy, if you can be the service on behalf of our viewers, I presume you read the "New York Times" piece tonight on the Israeli firm. What you were -- for folks who haven`t had the time to plow through it, what`s your biggest takeaways here?
BASH: Well, at the big takeaway is that Rick Gates, the deputy campaign manager, of course pled guilty and is awaiting sentencing. Consider proposals from a social media and psychological operations and opposition research firm based in Israel to help the Trump campaign. I think what really stood out to me about the reporting is that the Trump campaign actively considered and solicited proposals from organizations that wanted to create false personas to engage in social media manipulation.
To actually engage in computer generate content, but. And that all of this was, in effect, a fraud that they were considering to be placed on the American electorate, and this is in some ways parallel to exactly what the Russians did and that case was sponsored by the Russian state which, of course, violates a whole other path of American federal law. Unclear tonight whether or not, this operation was also directed by another foreign government.
WILLIAMS: Indeed, and let me read this quote from The Times article. The Trump campaign`s interest in the work began as Russians were escalating their effort to aid Donald J. Trump, though the Israeli company`s pitches were narrower than Moscow`s interference campaign and appear unconnected.
The documents show that a senior Trump aide saw the promise of a disruption effort to swing voters in Mr. Trump`s favor. There are a couple of things come to mind. Number one, I wish we could look at story like this and say, "Well, that was a one election where we weren`t paying attention and we had meddling in that election to what end, we don`t know yet." But it won`t be just that one election, sadly we can say that with almost certainty.
The question I have for you, do you think given your knowledge that Mueller forces are all over this and have been all over this for months?
BERGER: Yes. I mean this is not news to us. This is certainly not news to Mueller and his team.
WILLIAMS: You`re always reminds.
BERGER: You know, Rick Gated pled guilty and started cooperating back in February. So this is certainly something that they have been working on. I would be shocked if they were not completely all over this.
And it`s important to remember, not to lose sight of the fact that, you know, obviously opposition research is legal. It`s done all the time. But the idea that the campaign was reaching out to a company to create these fake personas for the purpose of swaying delegates and trying to get them to support Trump, whether that is legal, technically or not, I think many people would say that just feels wrong.
And so regardless of you know where this ends up, whether it`s part of Mueller`s investigation, whether it is not, I feel like I would not be alone in saying that really doesn`t sit well, the idea that we would do that, this kind of domestic campaign to mislead our own people during an election.
WILLIAMS: Yes. You like to at least assume the people you`re dealing with and seeing on social media are, at minimum, people, for starters. Jeremy Bash, Berit Berger, thank you for explaining two big stories we would miss today.
Another break for us and coming up with less than 30 days to the midterms. We`ll take look at the most vulnerable Senate candidates on both sides of the aisle, when we continue.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HEIDI HEITKAMP (D), NORTH DAKOTA: I think that the politically expedient vote here was a, yes vote.
SCOTT PELLEY, CBS CORRESPONDENT: Why not, then?
HETKAMP: Because this isn`t about politics. This is about a lifetime appointment on the Supreme Court. This is about a responsibility that we have as leaders, a responsibility that we have to exercise the judgment that we were sent here to exercise.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp defending her decision to vote no on Justice Kavanaugh`s appointment to the court. She voted with the Democrats, but her situation back home is different. She is considered one of the most vulnerable Democrats up for election in 2018 since her state, North Dakota, went for Trump by 36% back in 2016. The race for a Senate seat in Nevada is another story, another closely watched contest, and like Heitkamp, the Republican running for reelection there seems unwilling to go down without a fight.
As POLITICO points out, "Neither party is willing to concede that its most vulnerable incumbent, North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp for the Democrats, and Nevada Senator Dean Heller for the Republicans is doomed. And both parties are still spending millions to keep those races in play and hoping for a poll-defying victory."
With just 29 days to go, let`s talk about it here tonight. With us to do that, David Jolly, former Republican congressman from Florida and Sabrina Siddiqui, political reporter for "The Guardian". Welcome back to the broadcast to both of you. Sabrina, at the risk of repeating some points we have already made and may make again in this hour, 29 days is a long time and usually, grievance will get people to the polls in a way that gratitude will not.
SABRINA SIDDIQUI, POLITICAL REPORTER, THE GUARDIAN: Absolutely. And I think that when we talk about midterms, you have to remember that they are typically a referendum on the president. And this president has the distinction of having historically low approval ratings since taking office. He -- despite the fact that the economy is strong, he, of course, resorts more so to these culture wars, to this us versus them message that he believes drives his base to the polls. And a lot of that has to do with also the fact that his signature legislative accomplishment, the tax bill, that remains increasingly popular in polling, so perhaps he`s also not really in a position to talk much about his agenda since taking office.
But it also speaks to the idea that a lot of Republican strategists and Democratic strategists like I`ve spoken with believe that midterms will also ultimately come down to turnout. And the president remains overwhelmingly popular with the Republican base, and so that`s why you`ve seen him escalate his appearances on the campaign trail where he`s trying very much to resort to the same messaging that proved successful in 2016, one that is based on grievance. The question, of course, is, to what extent does that then prompt the left to be even more energized because we`ve already also seen a great deal of excitement among progressives and this opportunity to see (ph), to manifest their -- to really -- to present a backlash to this president at the polls.
WILLIAMS: So, congressman, you`ve have the Heller race in Nevada and the Heitkamp race in North Dakota. In a cruel way, they`re self-canceling if they both go the way the polls tell us --
DAVID JOLLY (R) FLORIDA, FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN: Sure.
WILLIAMS: -- they`re going to go. Do you have any -- is this any party malpractice if they kind of keep going and spending money and trying hard to the finish line?
JOLLY: No, not at this point, but I do think as we get closer, you`ll see the parties began to pull back. Listen, the challenge for Donald Trump is this, he has made every day of the last two years about him, the news cycle about him. And what he can`t get away from is November 6 will also, therefore, be about him. If you look at North Dakota, it favored Donald Trump as you said by 30 plus points. We know in Arizona, Nevada, those are closer states. We know in West Virginia, Manchin might pull it out.
The remarkable thing coming off all of the intensity of Kavanaugh, all the divisiveness of Kavanaugh, is I think from a macro level, nothing really shifted. If you are looking at the House, you want to be a Democrat today, it looks like it still favors a shift of control to the Democrats. If you`re looking at the Senate, it looks like the Republicans still remain favored to hold the Senate. But we are 29 days away, anything can happen. But it does look good for the Democrats in the House and it looks good for the Republicans in the Senate despite the Kavanaugh divisiveness.
WILLIAMS: Sabrina, I want to read you something that comes out of the toxicity of the Kavanaugh process. This goes to the North Dakota race. This is about Kevin Cramer who was challenging Senator Heitkamp. This is from, what are we, "The New York Times". Invoking his wife, daughters, mother and mother-in-law, Mr. Cramer, Heitkamp`s challenger said, "They cannot understand this movement toward victimization. They are pioneers of the prairie. These are tough people whose grandparents were tough and great-grandparents were tough." In an interview at a Scandinavian festival in Rutland, North Dakota, Heitkamp reacted angrily to his dismissive assessment of women who say they have been sexually assaulted. "It did not make my mom less strong that she was a victim. She got stronger and she made us strong. And to suggest that this movement doesn`t make women strong and stronger is really unfortunate."
Sabrina, those are kinds of the two conversations going on right now.
SIDDIQUI: Yes, and it`s worth noting that Heidi Heitkamp`s opponent, this isn`t the first controversial remark he has made with respect to Brett Kavanaugh. He was also in the headlines just a couple of weeks ago for stating that even if Dr. Christine Blasey Ford`s allegations were true, it should not disqualify Judge Kavanaugh from being confirmed to the Supreme Court, because ultimately, the attempted rape did not go anywhere.
I think that it really does reinforce, though, the dynamics that are playing out in the two parties where Republicans are broadly being propelled by male voters, whereas you are also seeing that same gender gap manifest itself among Democrats, where women are, according to several polls, more likely to support democratic candidates in a gender gap that is roughly in the double digits now. I think it was 14 points, according to a new "Washington Post" poll that`s just out today. And so I think when Heidi Heitkamp made her decision, it was certainly a huge political risk for one of the more vulnerable Democrats in the Senate. But I also think that she does have an opportunity to appeal to some of those women voters who are frustrated, especially the independent-minded and suburban women voters who could make all of the difference, especially when we talk about turnout and how close it could be in November.
WILLIAMS: Congressman, I`m coming for you next. We`re going to fit in a break first. Both of our guests are going to stay with us. When we come back, we`ll talk more about the influence of women voters one month from now, including the opinion of a prominent Tennessee native, that one.
WILLIAMS: We are back, and following the Kavanaugh confirmation, Republicans keep reporting they`re seeing this boost in enthusiasm, but new polling also finds a growing dislike for Kavanaugh just as he becomes a sitting justice. This could reflect itself in the midterms.
New survey from CNN finds that among women, approval for Kavanaugh has dropped significantly. A majority 53% say they have a negative view. That is up 33% for -- of women from 33% of women in August, forgive me. Even before the Kavanaugh controversy, a record number of women were already getting involved in local politics, running for office, so the power of the female vote could have a substantial impact on November 6.
Back with us, David Jolly, Sabrina Siddiqui. David, I know people want to get to Taylor Swift. We will.
But first of all, I want to run you two other examples of the kind of dual conversations we`re having in this country. From tonight on Fox News, I give you Lindsey Graham. And after that, I give you Senator Harris, Democrat of California, from Ohio this weekend. Here they are.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: 29 days from now, you got a decision to make, America. Do you want to live in the world of Senator Hirono where you`re guilty until proven innocent because you`re a Republican, you don`t have a presumption of innocence? Or do you want to live in the Susan Collins world where you`ll actually be heard, listened to and evaluated?
SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D), CALIFORNIA: What we saw and many of us became very dispirit over the last couple of days and weeks, let`s deal with that, right? Because what we saw was an exercise of raw power. Raw power, which was used and had the effect of demeaning and diminishing and belittling people. Well, here`s the thing. If we want to correct the course, what do we need to do? We need to take the power.
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WILLIAMS: So, congressman, what do you make of those two different conversations?
JOLLY: I would point out to Lindsey Graham he got his facts wrong. Susan Collins said she did not believe Dr. Ford. Susan Collins said that while Dr. Ford may have been the victim of a sexual assault, she did not believe that Dr. Ford was telling the truth about her accuser. Lindsey Graham used to be their reverent conscience, if you will, of the Republican Party in the Trump years and he`s turned into a senator that, in many opinions including mine, he`s lost his mind.
But I would point this out, Brian, about the intensity that we are measuring, and this is very important. The spike in intensity means this. If you love the GOP, you love it more today, and you are more likely to vote Republican. That is a net good for Republicans. But a spike in GOP intensity does not mean that more people love the Republican Party today. And it is those voters, those independent voters who do not love the Republican Party more today that the Republican Party is losing every time the president of the United States suggests this was a hoax, suggests like he did in Orlando today it is evil, suggests like he did tonight, it was lies and deception.
The Republican Party has said to the -- to women across the country, we don`t believe you. And those women are going to shout very loudly on November 6 and it`s not going to be shouting on behalf of Republicans.
WILLIAMS: Sabrina, we were joking about Taylor Swift earlier, but she becomes kind of a serious entrant, a serious factor in a very serious race for Senate in Tennessee for the Corker seat who`s retiring. Taylor Swift, who has much chronicle residences in New York and Rhode Island, and elsewhere is, afer all, a native Tennessean, and she has come out in favor of Bredesen, the Democrat. Talk about it.
SIDDIQUI: Well, it was interesting because Taylor Swift has historically shied away from politics almost infamously. In fact, she was criticized for not really weighing in during the course of the 2016 election. But, a lot of her statement around Marsha Blackburn, the Republican who is seeking to win Corker`s seat, had to do with Marsha Blackburn`s record on women, on reproductive rights as well as on LGBT rights.
And I think there`s -- there`s almost -- it`s no coincidence that this came right after the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh which, again, is inseparable from the cultural backdrop of the MeToo movement and this moment of reckoning around sexual misconduct and just the notion that the standards for what is acceptable behavior toward women have changed. Now, how much will one celebrity endorsement influence the outcome of an election? That`s, of course, always difficult to assess.
But Taylor Swift is one of the most popular pop stars in the country, and she`s particularly popular among millennials and single women, which are key demographics for Democrats who don`t often, it`s also worth pointing out, turn out in midterms. So a lot of this, of course, goes back to the idea of turnout, and I think that`s where someone like Taylor Swift can be key.
WILLIAMS: So I don`t hear from all the T Swift fans in the country, I`m rushing to point out she, indeed, was born in Pennsylvania. Got that on the record. David Jolly, Sabrina Siddiqui, it`s always a pleasure to have you both on. Thank you very much --
JOLLY: Thank you, (INAUDIBLE).
SIDDIQUI: Thank you.
WILLIAMS: -- for taking part in our conversation.
Coming up, the warning being sounded, forgive me, along the Florida coast tonight for the out of nowhere storm that will be here by Wednesday.
WILLIAMS: Tonight, the folks along our southern shore would be forgiven for wondering why they are preparing for a hurricane on very little notice. Hurricane Michael was only upgraded from a tropical storm this morning, but here`s the important part, we`re looking at a landfall by Wednesday afternoon, maybe lunchtime, possibly as a strong category three. It`s no Harvey and it`s certainly no Florence, it`s just not a long windup storm. And while it has just cleared Cuba, just look at the agreement in all these models, the spaghetti strands predicting its path. Most of them bring it right up over top of Panama City region. That includes Tallahassee and Apalachicola. And quickly en route to Florida, it`s going to feed on the warm waters of the gulf. It`s also going to move fast once it moves inland.
So watches are posted from the Alabama coast to the west, almost as far east as Tampa Bay, with a maximum storm surge of eight to 12 feet predicted and with almost no time to plan. Forecasters are sounding the alarm on this Monday night for this Wednesday landfall. Forecasters like the weather channel`s own hurricane expert Dr. Rick Knabb who posted this warning, "Michael could be one of the worst hurricanes to ever strike the Florida Big Bend and Florida Panhandle region. We only have today and Tuesday to complete lifesaving preparations at the coast and inland. The governors of Florida and Alabama have already declared states of emergency. Mandatory evacuations are already being ordered in several Florida Panhandle counties. We will keep you updated on this fast-moving storm.
Another break for us in the meantime. And coming up, the one story in the news today that affects all of us and the next generation of us as well. We`re back right after this.
WILLIAMS: Last thing before we go tonight, we often try to end the broadcast with something light, perhaps a tribute to someone, something hopeful, but full disclosure, not tonight. The report that came out today from the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was more than some people could take today. The report by a group of scientists paints a dire picture. It`s desperate, in fact, and it`s beyond urgent.
As the authors put it, avoiding widespread damage would require transforming the global economy on a scale that has no documented historic precedent. The report says plainly, if greenhouse gasses continue at this pace, coastlines will be inundated, drought and poverty will intensify, all of which you may have heard before as part of other studies, other reports, but here`s the headline on this one. We`ll let "The New York Times" tell it. Major climate report describes a strong risk of crisis as early as 2040.
Think about that. That puts it within the lifetime of most of those living on this planet today. To avert it, greenhouse gas pollution would have to be reduced by almost half immediately, in all the countries of the world. On the threat of coastal flooding alone, we`re now on a list along with Bangladesh, China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines and Vietnam. Two quote of note from "The Times" here. The first from an Oxford University professor and report author who says the report is, "Telling us we need to reverse emissions trends and turn the world economy on a dime."
Another of the report`s authors is a climate scientist at Duke University says, "This report makes it clear there is no way to mitigate climate change without getting rid of coal." That`s the same coal the president ran on, the same coal he mentions in so many speeches. And that`s been the change in the business of climate study. The U.S. you see is no longer a leader and has, in fact, turned in the other direction. Obama-era goals have been rolled back. We`re effectively out of the Paris accord. All of it because elections have consequences. We should also add in this season of playoffs, nature always bats last.
That is our broadcast on a Monday night. Thank you so very much for being here with us. Good night from NBC News headquarters here in New York.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END